On a fairly cold November evening went to the Windmill in Brixton town to see what turned out to be a fairly eclectic group of bands.
I was there ostensibly to see “Jemma Freeman and the Cosmic something” who I have seen a couple of times before. They remind me of a slightly less heavy version of “Turbowolf”. Led inevitably by Jemma her alter ego takes the stage for a bit for of gender blurring, including some guitar antics that are possibly a little tongue in cheek. Great energy and commitment to the performance I was also impressed by the amount of pedals that appeared out of a rolled up towel/small carpet. One of those bands who should be bigger but also nice for the fans to keep them accessible. A dilemma of course.
First band on stage were “Sgt Duke” who are a group of guys who were literally suited and booted. Two guitarists shared vocal duties (two quite different styles) but are the next generation of guitar led bands looking to offer something a little left field and quirky. They reminded me of” XTC” at times but are very much of now and seem to be gaining a following. Not sure about the name but I’m sure there is a story there that I’m not aware of.
Second band on stage were “Vonhorn” who are a classy three piece who had a good range of tunes and delivered immaculately. Slightly self-deprecating they are competing in a tough musical space but they were really good and I would pay money to see them again. Very clean, note perfect and clearly enjoying their 30 minutes in the spotlight.
Headlining was Stephen Evans. Never heard of this guy before he was billed as a kind of Ivor Cutler figure. That’s not how he came across leading a really competent and powerful band who knew their stagecraft. Stephen cuts an interesting figure, dressed in a three piece suit but with an enviable amount of wild hair, for someone who is arguably over 40(?). Not trying to be ageist but they are for the more discerning audience who can appreciate the irony of songs about household objects and manual labour. I really enjoyed them and again would make an effort to see them again, although I think they are a little elusive and this was a relatively novel event.
Great night and wish them all the success they are looking for.
As I am currently a full time student I took the opportunity to attend the ULU student union in Malet St near Tottenham Court Road to check in on “Yak” who I haven’t seen for a few years.
Due to other commitments I arrived to see the last half of support” Egyptian Blue”. They are a bunch of young guys from Brighton, and got a bit of swagger and attitude to them. I heard about 3 or 4 songs and all well crafted and post punk inspired.
“Yak” came on about 9.30 after a five minute musical intro trying to build the tension. The first 20 minutes of the set was about attack and the audience was ready to respond. They played a long set and it was punctuated by what appeared to be slower numbers which didn’t have the feel for of the first album, which I thought was all killer no filler. But I guess that is the price of growing up and wanting to experiment in other directions.
They are a traditional rock and roll band in essence sounding a bit like a speeded up version of “Black Rebel Motor cycle club” on occasion. On other tracks such as “Bellyache “strands of “Kasabian” are interwoven with a more progressive sound. They have had their tribulations with finances etc. over the years which I think nearly signalled their complete demise but here they are off the back of supporting “Foals” on tour. They are operating in a crowded market and I just got the impression that the youthful enthusiasm of a few years ago has been replaced by a certain stoicism in the face of adversity and that they are now more of a journeyman band. Singer Oliver did tentatively crowd surf at about two thirds into the set. I’m sure he said it was the last song but they carried on playing for at least another thirty minutes.
I think they are on the cusp of releasing new material although they have also taken to social media recently saying this is the final tour and finish of the band. The atmosphere last night had perhaps tapped into this with a big crowd invasion toward the end with no attempt to remove people from the stage.
If that’s the case then probably no point suggesting looking out for them. There star has waned a bit in the last year or two and maybe they have taken all they need form this particular stage of their musical journey.
Wish them luck in the next stage of their journey.
It has been a while since I visited the Scala in Kings Cross. Pretty much the same intimate venue where quite bizarrely the inordinately tall seem to hover at the back of the auditorium making it difficult for old codgers like me without having to shift out of our favourite spots. But C’est la Vie.
The support was delivered by “Heir” a group of guys from Leeds with a nice endearing line in stage banter and strong upbeat, in the main, songs. Quick plug but they are playing the Camden Assembly on 18th March 2020 as headliners so definitely worth checking out. On a cursory listen they were a good compliment to the” Little Comets” musically and philosophically, if that’s not being too deep.
I have had a soft spot for the” Little Comets” since seeing them as first act at a Ben and Jerry’s summer festival in Clapham( I think) best part of 10 years ago. It was a sunny afternoon and there indie jangling guitar style and vocal gymnastics matched the weather perfectly.
This is not to say that there song catalogue is in anyway all sunshine as they certainly wear their hearts on their sleeves and over the years haven’t shied away from contentious issues.
Playing the Scala probably suggests that they are not growing their following but it was a good well humoured crowd and although it was only the occasional song that really got the audience moving they were greeted as old friends.
They project as thoroughly nice down to earth guys and the sound was crystal clear and the set polished. A few favourites were missed on the night but with I think five albums it makes sense to rotate the songs before you get to the point that you’re just rushing to get them finished and onto what you want to play. I’m sure the songs you wrote 10 years ago don’t have quite the same allure or meaning.
I left just before the encore but left happy and feeling just a little bit better about life having been immersed in their upbeat performance. Good to see them again and probably back again for the next two year cycle.
Courtesy of setlistfm.com
A Little Opus
The Man Who Wrote Thriller
Her Black Eyes
One Night In October
3 Minute Faltz
I have been aware of “Girl band” for a couple of years hearing their EP with the cover of “Why they hide the bodies under my garage “while randomly searching for stuff. I was looking forward to seeing them and I like the electric ballroom. It’s a good venue , partly for the fact that even if you are in the main bar you actually get a reasonable, if slightly restricted, view of the stage.
“Girl Band” were supported by” Silverback” a band that sounded a little like the “Fontaines DC”. Clearly not a criticism but the strong Dublin (?) vocal lilt made the linkage. They are conventional indie band in comparison to the boys of “Girl Band” although worth a further listen.
Highly anticipated by the packed venue “Girl Band” hit the stage at 9pm and launched into the back catalogue initially from “Holding Hands with Jamie” and then perhaps quite bravely playing tracks from the new album. I say this because the new album “The Talkies” is a strong development from their previous work and can’t be considered easy listening. It’s been four years in the making and therefore has some depth to its evolution. So it pushes a few boundaries which is a good thing but might be difficult to pick up fresh for new fans.
In terms of their performance it was big. The sounded great in the live medium and played a long set, airing all the crowd pleasers along the way. They dominated the space and had the crowd fully engaged.
If you like the kind of noise they play go see. There were a few fans of” Metz” in the crowd who are a band in my view that up to this latest album were fairly closely aligned musically. Not quite as much going forward as “Metz” have continued refining there high energy thrash whereas “Girl Band “ have released a thoughtful album, possibly quite personal and introspective in many areas.
It’s been a few years since they visited these shores due to illness in the band. Hope they come back soon.
Set list Courtesy of setlistfm.com
Pears for Lunch
The Last Riddler
Salmon of Knowledge
The Cha Cha Cha
Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage?
Been a while since I posted a review and have missed out a couple which I might update eventually. Back at the Underworld in Camden which has been slightly rearranged since I was last there but essentially still the basement dive that’s so good to see bands.
Commercial Announcement: Drink pricing is keeping pace with inflation at £6.50 a pint so not a cheap afternoon out.
The running order was” Jesus Piece” , “World Collapse”,”Death before Dishonour”,” Outburst” and “Terror” headlining. The genre is heavy hardcore but within that rather rigid category there was some variation within the all US line up.
“Jesus Piece” were first on stage and arguably not the natural bottom of the bill. They had a big, if not the biggest, following of the event and delivered an energetic set which set the tone and bar for those to follow. A mixture of growling vocals juxtaposed with the bassists vocal accompaniment they had high energy levels.
Following were “World Collapse”, “Death before dishonour” and “Outburst” all who kept the music tempo rocking along (no slow numbers here-period) but each had their own unique sound and vocally quite a range of styles.
Finally “Terror” finished off the show encouraging the assembled to invade the stage and dive back into the throng. At times it looked like lemmings throwing themselves off a cliff such was the amount of traffic. Hopefully no one was hurt and they all found reasonably soft landings.
I should also mention that a hall mark of these shows, which is always interesting, is that despite the musical aggression, and the aggression in some areas of the audience the atmosphere is always very inclusive.
Also worth mentioning is that it was loud and it got louder as the afternoon progressed, ultimately meaning I resorted to earplugs which certainly helped but of course took a little of the edge away.
Good afternoon and very therapeutic in some respects . No attempt at musical subtlety of any kind. Just raw power.
Made the annual pilgrimage to the 7th Wonkfest at the Dome in Tufnell Park. This is my third Wonkfest and you always approach with some trepidation as its basically a marathon rather than a sprint stretching as it does over 12 hours.
Last year I wrote about each band but this year a slightly different approach as I could’nt really be asked to go to that level of detail and I did review many of the same bands last year . But perhaps more importantly the event is really more about just the feel good factor of what’s going on and a celebration of the DIY music scene.
The format for those who have not been to Wonkfest is 22 bands with 20 minute sets spread across two stages. I missed the first few bands but it certainly seemed busier than last year in terms of attendees and as the day progressed it actually became difficult to get to the smaller of the two stages and punters started to congregate around the major stage and just hang out there. This meant people did miss out on some of the bands from last year who had been on the Dome stage but were now playing the smaller stage. Notable amongst some of these bands were “Murderburgers’ from Scotland, “Pizzatramp” from Wales and “Maid Of Ace “ from Southend (?).
It was also noticeable that more money had been spent on stage banners and other paraphernalia than previous years . The organisation was as ever slick and everything ran absolutely on time which is a slight irony for an anti-establishment event .
Other bands that I thought were really worth a mention were “Eastfield” who delivered some lyrically interesting , thought provoking three chord thrashing and I was particularly impressed by “Youth Killed it” who delivered a set with a good dollop of humour and like many of the bands did’nt take themselves too seriously. I always feel that the event is generally good humoured despite the hard core nature of the majority of the music and there is a level of humour throughout. On form “Aerial Salad”and “Dub Righters” also got the crowd rocking and skanking respectively .
The final band as always are the organisers “Wonk Unit”. Picking up on the humour theme they delivered the classics everyone wants such as “Kings Road Sporting Heroes” , “Je mapelle Alex” and “Go Easy”. With the normal level of banter you would expect from these guys there was a moment half way through the set that epitomised the day. Vocalist Alex asked the audience to seperate down the middle ,create a gap and get ready for a huge thrash as the next song started . The last instruction before the song struck up was that for the gentler folk at the back perhaps they could walk toward each other slowly and for the rest of the crowd “please thrash responsibility”.
It was a great event as usual. Looking forward to next year.
Made the pilgrimage down to the Windmill in Brixton to see four bands who I had not heard of before. The Windmill being the venue that it is means that the quality of all bands was really high.
If you have never been then it’s a bucket list venue. Small and shabby it’s a very safe space where bands mingle with punters and you can start a conversation without feeling that the recipient thinks you must have some malignant intent.
The first band to hit the stage was “Black Bordello”. Led by a really good female vocalist they mix many genres and sounds to my ear. Sometimes a bit “Roxy Music” ,sometimes a bit Amanda Palmer in the “Dresden Dolls “ era and then all sorts of other influences they flipped between rockier numbers and ballads with a cabaret feel running through the songs. That is of course my opinion and others ears may have picked out other aspects. Need to hear more and I will look out for them as they were a bit different and thoughtful songs throughout. Not sure how long they have been around but certainly seem to have a future if luck is on their side.
Next band were called “Malady”. Again a distinctive vocalist the band hand a handful of songs that had a funky edge . They looked comfortable in the space with an audience which were still warming up and indeed still turning up. Like a lot of younger bands its probably fair to say they are still establishing there style and they are operating in a very crowded market place.
Third band of the evening “Rattletooth” ,not to be confused with an earlier hard core punk band of the same name ,started to get the crowd moving with there guitar driven uptempo songs. I have to say by this point a number of lagers had been imbibed and I didn’t concentrate on the band as much as I should have so apologies to them. They were however really competent, delivered a high energy performance and certainly like all the bands on show worth checking out.
Which leaves “Mice on Mars” as headline. Straightforward garage/punk they had the crowd peaking at the right time and I was left at the back of the crowd as people squeezed into the space in front of the stage.I’ve listened to some of their songs on Sound Cloud and they remind me of “Slaves” on some of the bass parts but they do have that garage feel in their guitar sound. Again difficult to know who are the bands to watch here as they were all good. And with a ticket price of just £4 it was a great night out.
Although I did suggest earlier the Windmill is really worth a visit I would urge you to ignore that advice as I’ve just decided on reflection I would far prefer to keep it my indulgent little secret.